MAYVILLE - Fewer cleanup crews will be working on Chautauqua Lake this summer.
As it stands, the Chautauqua Lake Association can't afford to provide the same level of maintenance it has in recent years.
On Wednesday, Doug Conroe, CLA executive director, gave a presentation to the County Legislature - and also made a plea for more money.
"The public will see half of our harvesting fleet drydocked on land," Conroe said. "Half of our maintenance barges will be drydocked as will the dredging debris removal machine, and a third of our trucks will be parked. If it's a bad summer, people will call asking why this equipment is not in service. Be prepared for those calls."
Maintenance services will drop by so much this season that the typically thriving lake economy will be threatened, Randy Graham, CLA president, told the legislature.
"These service reductions are directly attributable to government funding reductions," Conroe said. "State funding is absent, and we have low expectations that it will be reinstated. ... Chautauqua County's participation has been reduced by 68 percent ... Town and village governments have held the line and in some instances increased their participation while private donations are staying stable."
"If it's a bad summer, people will call asking why this equipment is not in service."
For the CLA to provide its full slate of maintenance services, which Conroe said the community expects, a total of $534,602 is needed. However, the organization has only a little more than half that, with a budget of $289,850 to spend - leaving a shortfall of $244,752.
To offer the same level of services the CLA provided last summer, a total of $437,162 is needed. That would still leave a shortfall of $147,312 though, with little time to make up the difference.
Realistically, the CLA is looking to reduce its services this year to the levels provided in the 1990s. Such a maintenance plan will cost the CLA $339,886, which still leaves a $50,036 deficit to shore up.
It is the CLA's hope that local governments will step up in the coming weeks to provide additional assistance, matching what's being donated by the private sector and institutions such as the Community Foundation.
"All of our equipment is serviced and ready," Conroe said. "It can be launched if the needed funds are raised. Time is running out, however. We only have a month left to go before summer starts. Securing the training staff after that date will be problematic."
A WATER HIGHWAY
Doug Conroe characterized Chautauqua Lake as a waterway highway in his comments to the County Legislature.
He continued on to point out the importance of adequately funding road highways, suggesting that Chautauqua Lake should see the same sort of funding.
"We know what a significant expense it is to maintain highways," he said. "We should not expect to encounter lesser expense to maintain waterway highways."
Though owned and regulated by New York state, Chautauqua Lake sees no funds from the state for maintenance. Such care is left up to the local municipalities as well as the donations of residents and visitors who use the water body for recreation.
The Chautauqua Lake Association then uses those funds to maintain and better the lake.
"Whenever we ask for donations, the very first response we receive is that citizens expect that when they pay their taxes that a portion of it is going to lake maintenance," Conroe said. "Property owners who are taxed higher because they live near the lake expect that a major portion of their tax payment goes for lake maintenance."
Conroe continued on in his comments to the legislature to point out that the county cut its funding of lake maintenance by $100,000 between 2010 and 2011 - not including another $36,000 cut to lake monitoring and research.
"What would be the direct impact upon the Department of Public Facilities' programs if their budget were reduced by 68 percent as was the Chautauqua Lake Association?" Conroe questioned. "What would the highways be like? What will Chautauqua Lake be like?"